“I have depression” she said one day.
Frantically I scrolled up more and more in our text message conversation, looking for indicators that she was showing symptoms of depression.
Realising that she had made my heart sink, I read her text again and again, feeling more helpless each time.
Reading the text over and over didn’t make the fact go away that my best friend had depression. I called Alina straightaway. She was in tears.
“I feel like I can’t get out of this place no matter what I do, everything is crushing me”, she said.
It was 2014 when she told me. Thinking about it now, my initial feeling was guilt.
I felt like I was not being there for her as much as I could have been.
Our only means of communication were calls and texts as she lives in America.
Because of this I felt more helpless and I had no clue how to help her.
I thought about the first time I met her. I had known Alina for nearly five years when she first told me. She was outgoing, always smiling and laughing.
She had a huge interest in fashion and wanted to pursue a career in it.
As I realised that she no longer mentioned fashion as much as she used to, I began to see the contrast. It was gut-wrenching.
Fear replaced the feeling of guilt. I didn’t want to lose her.
In desperation I began researching. Depression was not something I was familiar with when my best friend informed me she was suffering from it.
While researching I found that globally, more than 350 million people of all ages experience and suffer from it.
A fifth of people in the UK experience depression and anxiety whereas in America, a staggering 40 million people suffer from the medically defined mental disorder each year alone.
Further statistics showed that up to 20 per cent of people experience symptoms of depression with 10 times more people suffering from depression currently than in 1945.
While passing all the information onto Alina, it came to light that she had been having many family problems that seemed never ending.
Having some indication of what may have triggered her depression gave me the motivation to get her back on her feet.
“I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to socialise anymore. All I can think about is this and I’ve ended up isolating myself to the point I’m scared of interaction. I don’t think I can get better. I’m stuck.”
“Alina, to get out of this state you have to push yourself a bit. Do something, even the littlest thing that makes you feel good. Maybe go shopping?”
Giving Alina the motivation to do something was the most challenging task.
Watching someone I loved and cared about go through something so gruelling was really heartbreaking.
Researching more and more made me more informed and in return made me feel hopeful that I could be there for Alina in the best possible way.
“Depression can affect anyone in the world. Although it has no certain cause, it can be triggered by continuous stress or a major life event,” my GP Dr Benedict said.
“Depression is curable. Most people have the perception that medication is the only way, however medication to some is the last resort. Meditation, exercising and even having a proper diet can help people like your best friend feel better.”
Finding out it was curable gave me more motivation to keep pushing Alina to get better.
After that her texts never went unanswered and I did my best to raise her spirits.
One day, the phone rang and I picked up to Alina sounding optimistic.
“I want to get better. I’ve had enough,” she said.
Upon hearing those words, a sense of relief overpowered me. It felt like she had achieved something and I was witnessing her grow.
Alina had decided to talk to someone professional about her depression.
From 2014 to now, Alina has progressed so much. Although she has not fully beaten it, she continues to fight it almost every day and is closer to being free from it.
One thing I learned from my best friend having depression is that everyone is affected by it.
Even though some may never experience it first-hand, chances are that they’ll have a loved one experience it and that in itself is a form of suffering.
Looking back on it, the phrase “the bad comes with the good” comes to mind.
The good bit? Seeing my best friend see her worth and being a part of her journey.
Featured image by Ryan Melaugh via Flickr CC.